Mirrors and Mass: Wayne Thom’s Southern California

About the Project

Mirrors and Mass: Wayne Thom’s Southern California is an online exhibition created by students in the University of Southern California School of Architecture’s 2018 course The History of Modern Architecture in Southern California. In 2015, USC Libraries acquired Wayne Thom’s archive, making over 250,000 images available for public scholarship. For this project, the students delved into that material, developing an online exhibition of Thom’s work that strives to garner broad awareness of his photography and the spirit of Late Modernist architecture he so masterfully captured.

Developed under the guidance of Dr. Emily Bills, the exhibition showcases Thom’s Southern California work from the start of his career in 1968 to 1979, roughly corresponding to the class’ timeframe and geographic focus. But class parameters were only part of the decision to focus on this period and location. As we near the 50th anniversary of the 1970s, the class, which includes students from USC’s Architecture, Heritage Conservation, and Real Estate Development programs, hopes engagement with the photographs will promote the importance of preserving Southern California’s contributions to this overlooked period in skyscraper, civic, and campus design. Thom’s photographs, then as now, provide compelling evidence of this contribution, from the region’s experiments in mirror-glass surfaces seen in John Portman’s Bonaventure Hotel, to the thrilling possibilities of poured concrete construction found in William Pereira & Associates’ Geisel Library.

Faculty advisor:
Emily Bills

Rachel Trombetta
Krista Nicholds
Deepeaka Dhaliwal
Erik Van Breene
Maddy Campbell
Kasey Viso
Erika Kronk
Drew Ericsen
Camille Elston
Sarah Castro
Po Lao
Jared Dror
Stefen Chraghchian
Erika Ruan
Duke Dunham
Cory Singer
Richard Wenzel
Harrison St. Jean
Alexander Moore
Andy Chau
Christopher Brown

Technical and design support:
Curtis Fletcher